The Band of Heathens (from the album Duende)
The Band of Heathens are celebrating an anniversary with Duende, their recent release. It has been ten years since the original core trio of Colin Brooks, Gordy Quist, and Ed Jurdi shared a bill at Momo’s in Austin, Texas. Each songwriter had their own set though over time the three musicians started to back one another in song, adding in a bass player and eventually a drummer by 2007. Gordy Quist and Ed Jurdi are still on board as members for Duende, the fifth studio album from The Band of Heathens. Gordy Quist explains that Duende is ‘a word we don’t have an equivalent for in English’. The meaning of the term is a quality of inspiration and passion, a heightened sense of emotion, expression and authenticity, basically a spirit, or as Ed Jurdi, who found the term describes ‘the essence of the artist’.
Musically, Duende is an extension of the decade spent crafting music as a cottage industry for The Band of Heathens. The stories are in line with the group’s nature of what they do for a living not being much different from the way they live their lives. Duende balances the value of personal relationships with the world of social media (“Cracking the Code”), reads the limitless menu at the counter of consumer culture (“Keys to the Kingdom”), casts a vote for legalization (“Green Grass of California”), and lets the beat match the slap of tires marking time in the life of a traveling musician (“All I’m Asking”). The Band of Heathens tackle politics of the moment in “Road Dust Wheels”, a study of the immigration issues facing workers from Mexico and Latin America. Ed Jurdi feels that the song is ‘not about the politics of the situation but a meditation on people trying to get together to find their own slice of the American Dream, which has been our greatest export to the outside world. Unfortunately, we’ve got leaders trying to divide us, spitting venom and vitriol, trying to get elected by pitting us against each other rather than realizing, almost without exception, we create the same feeling of community and connection, regardless of religion, race or immigration status’. The sound of Duende is as diverse as its topics as the album funks it up with “Daddy Long Legs” and dips its toes in a New Orleans groove in “Sugar Queen” as The Band of Heathens strut their rock’n’roll stuff on “Trouble Came Early”.